Stormwater in the Mainstream: Commentary

A random stormwater headline grabbed me last week. I decided to analyze it from a long way off in terms of geography and detailed knowledge of the circumstances. The story comes to us from KSHB, Channel 41 in Kansas City, Missouri. The reporter, Ali Hoxie, can be reached at

Please take 2 minutes (plus a few seconds for a brief message from our sponsor) to see the TV news story HERE. Take good mental notes. We’ll wait for you.

When you return, read back through the story below. I have added quotes from the aired version* plus some editorial comments. See if anything moves you to change how your project and your work are perceived by the general public.


July 13, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Construction at 18th and Central in the Crossroads is creating a muddy mess {Construction activities are creating the mess. Got it.}, especially with Wednesday’s rainfall. The rain traveled downhill into the road, forcing people living and working in the area to travel through the mess {The rain traveled downhill and forced people to travel through the mess. Hmm.}.

*{“… extra precautions, including these straw barrels…”  – Give her a break. Wattles, logs, socks – we apparently don’t know what to call them either.

*{“…it’s been this way for days…” – Unfortunately, a little TV air time can really get a permittee moving.

“I have a brand new car, so I am like, dang it, now I have to track in mud, I have to worry about my clothes or what I wear, making sure I don’t get mud covered in that,” said stylist Kimberly Watson with Silver Screen Salon {“dang it” – must be from the South.}.  

“You got mud all day long on your vehicle, it’s all dried on there and it’s like you live on a country road, you get home and you actually work downtown,” said Frank Barns, who works at Art Lithocraft in the Crossroads {Perceived problems symptoms are typically about me now, not them or even us later.}.

While at the construction site, 41 Action News ran into the developer of the site {amateur move on the developer’s part.}.

“Unfortunately we have rain that is coming down all this week, we are going to be addressing the situation and we will get it taken care of,” said developer Sean O’Byrne, who is also the vice president of Downtown Council of Kansas City {That pesky rain again. You know, if it didn’t rain, we wouldn’t have any of these problems and maybe our country wouldn’t be so deep in debt. We’ll see if we can get that fixed in the next Downtown Council meeting.}. 

Crews did come out to the site to clean up the street and put extra barriers in place to stop some of the erosion. More fencing will go up once the ground dries. Eventually grass seeds will be planted which should help with the erosion.

*{“Within the hour, crews were working to stop further erosion… cleaning up the street and plan to add more fencing…” – Fast response to focus on the symptom rather than the source.

*{“The 93 million dollar project is still in the planning phase…” – the most effective and economical form of erosion control is delayed disturbance. Was it really necessary to clear the site before the plans were ready? If it was necessary, the second most effective form of erosion control would have been to cover it up.}

*{“We would have had grass planted there sooner, but …the seed wouldn’t take.” – Thankful for the acknowledgement of vegetation as an effective for of source control. I wonder if the seed had been applied along with some mulch or rolled erosion control product, if it may have survived. I also wonder if seed was really planted here.}

Officials with the city say the developer was notified of the problem on July 8 and gave them 10 days to fix the problem {The story ran on the following Wednesday – 5 days after the notice}. 


News reporters have a tough job and usually report the facts as accurately as they can, given what they know and the information they have available. Developers have a tough job also, and managing construction stormwater is not the primary reason for why they chose their profession. Managing stormwater is, however, the reason for our existence as stormwater professionals. This developer likely paid good money to stormwater professional who was to ensure that things were taken care of in this area. If he didn’t, maybe he will next time.

My point here is that sometimes it’s fun to look down upon and criticize others. But really, if you look take a longer view, it could have been one of us who has messed up.

We would love to hear your first impressions from the story. If I happen to have misinterpreted the situation in any way, let me know. I am happy to correct up.

2 thoughts on “Stormwater in the Mainstream: Commentary

  • Or, as does happen sometimes, the SWPPP and EPSC plan preparation was subcontracted to a stormwater/EPSC professional, but the developer did not hire those stormwater/EPSC professionals to implement and monitor the EPSC Plan, and decided instead to “save some money” by having his untrained or partially trained staff do it. And, even if a professional had performed the site inspections, if the developer decided to ignore the inspection report, there is little the professional can do about it. Inspection reports and follow-up are usually not required to be submitted to the state regulatory agency or to any agency (unless there is a massive failure as in this case), and compliance is assumed “in good faith”. I don’t know if that is what happened in this case, but in any case, the eroded soil should have been cleaned off of the street, and away from storm drains, within hours, not days.

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